Monday, August 25, 2014

Starting High School Again

Tomorrow, me and my sister will both start high school - one of us as a student and one as a teacher. We are both embarking on a scary but exciting new chapter in our lives. I can't describe how weird and surreal and emotional this feels. I remember Ashley starting kindergarten on August 25, 2005 when I started my junior year of high school, and it seems like it wasn't very long ago at all. I remember her in her huge white hair bow and her smocked octopus dress and me in my mini denim skirt and "day one junior girls" shirt. I remember walking her in SW Elementary and her being scared and not knowing what to do and then I drove to the high school and started one of the most memorable years of my grade school career. As I sat in art class and walked the halls, it didn't occur to me how quickly time would fly and how in the blink of an eye, that little girl in the octopus dress would soon be walking those same high school halls. It also didn't occur to me that even if I spent seven years in college, those seven years would FLY and that I'd be on the opposite end of the high school spectrum before I knew it.
It REALLY seems like yesterday that my mom and I dropped Ashley off at SW Middle and I took her picture and smiled, but as we drove off, I burst into tears because it just didn't seem right for her to be growing up so fast!
Now, although at totally different stages in life, we are starting similar journeys as members of high schools. I'm FINALLY starting my teaching career (better late than never, right?) and although this is something I've honestly been nervous about for years, I think I'm finally ready to go at it and give it my all. Yes, I miss college, and yes, I miss grad school. But tomorrow when I greet those high schoolers, and especially those little apprehensive freshmen, I'm gonna see Ashley and I'm gonna see my 14-year-old self, nervous and a little scared of the unknown, but having no idea how great it would be. And I will tell them like I told Ashley, "The first day may not be the best day of your life, but it will be memorable because it will most likely be the first day of four of the best years of your life."
It's scary as everything starting a new chapter.
It's sad, it's making me nostalgic, and it's exciting.
I've been SO reflective today, thinking about high school and college and grad school and doing the, "well what if I'd known then what I know now" and "how did this all happen like this/so fast?!"
Forget about the "what ifs."
Love and appreciate the past.
Cherish and appreciate the "NOW."
Give it all you've got because one day, the present will be what you fondly reflect on.
Here's to new beginnings,
and sharing them with those we love most.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yearly August 19 Entry

I'm gonna start with last year; the entry for this year is last.

August 19, 2013
I think one of the reasons I like to keep up with dates is because I like to see how far I've come from year to year. What things are different and what things are the same. Both are cool; I've always preferred constants though. Changes scare me. Terrify me, even.
But I'm getting better with handling change, and that's good because right now I'm sitting in a hotel room in Boone (because our apartment isn't finished) anticipating my last semester of graduate school. Hard to believe I'm almost done. I really just started a year ago. 
And my brother is here, starting his journey as an Appalachian student.
I'll be living in Boone for most of the next school year, and most people know what a change this will be for me, considering I never lived on campus when I went to HPU. With that being said, I wouldn't change anything.
Anyway, I noticed today was August 19, and with my impeccable memory, took note of the fact that on Monday, August 19, 2002, I started eighth grade. My last year of middle school. It was one of the best years of my life! Eleven years later, on Monday, August 19, 2013, I am about to start my last year of school (FINALLY).
Maybe this will be one of the best years of my life as well?
Yesterday, I thought back to the day before I started eighth grade. I thought about being SO nervous and dreading it SO much.  Coincidentally, I even took Ashley to the middle school parking lot to give her her first driving lesson yesterday! It wasn't til we were there that I realized the significance of the time and location, and the fact that Ashley will be an eighth-grader herself in a week or so.
I enjoy trying to make parallels. I enjoy looking back (not always the best thing). I enjoy consistency and tradition.

August 19, 2010

So tonight was Chanelle's last night in High Point, and I've been pretty depressed (to say the least) that summer is almost over. I get this way this time each year. Interestingly enough, though, pretty substantial things tend to happen around this time of year.
So after a fun night of taking pictures and driving around with Alex, getting "Bajjjjja Blast" at Taco Bell, me and Chanelle had a great conversation. It started with my realization that it was August 19th.

"Oh my gosh, I flooded my Jeep four years ago today! That means tomorrow is Garrett's birthday!"

I thought back to the memorable night of 8/19/06. I was seventeen and had as much freedom and adventure running through my veins as I did blood. With some friends from Garrett's 18th birthday party, I took my Jeep out in the woods, listening to my favorite Keith Urban cd, romping around and sank her in a gigantic mud puddle. That night, I tossed and turned and couldn't get to sleep for hours. I prayed for rest and for a miracle. I finally cried myself to sleep, thinking I would never get to drive my poor Jeep again. It was one of the most fun, incredible, crazy, depressing nights of my life. That's the night she earned the name the "Mud Bullet." The next day, I listened to my favorite Elvis songs to try and feel better. It was great.
ANYWAY, Chanelle and I proceeded to start a pretty deep conversation about our big futures and lives, and scary things like death and fears, the Harris Teeter parking lot haha. (That's where all the good stuff happens)
The cd that was playing had made its way to track #6, which was Avril Lavigne's "Sk8er Boi" or however she spells it. I told Chanelle I remembered the first time I had heard that song, which was the first day of 8th grade, on the school's weekly TV show. The thing is, I'm crazy when it comes to numbers and remembering dates, and always have been, and after a second I recalled that the first day of 8th grade was August 19th, 2002. That was the year that I started to love Southwest and make friends there, after being a loner in 7th grade (my first year at SW)
THEN I remembered that 8/19/02 was also the day that I first heard my all-time favorite song, "Burning Love" by Elvis Presley, while I was getting ready for school, nervous about starting 8th grade. I happened to turn my radio on in time to hear that song and loved it, thus eventually leading to my now 8-year Elvis obsession. Who knew I would be hanging out with Elvis' step-brother eight summers later at a church camp in Georgia?
I also heard one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs for the first time on August 19, 2002.  At the time, I barely knew who Stevie Wonder was, but the minute I heard the song "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," I knew I loved him. Now he is one of my favorite artists.
Chanelle and I mused about how high school doesn't seem that far away, but in reality, we were seniors four years ago. The night I sank my Jeep in the mud was halfway between my first day of 8th grade and now. On that night, 8th grade seemed like light years away, but tonight, 8/19/06 seems like just yesterday. And maybe to anyone else this seems stupid, but to me it's amazing. Amazing how much can change in four years and in eight years, but ironically stay the same and how time flies by so fast in general. And how certain dates hold certain values, and others just exist. Like what if I knew on 8/19/02 that I would have a "muddin" adventure four years later on that exact date, and then four years after that be listening to the same exact songs, while talking about life and the past 8 years with my best friend? It's just crazy and wonderful to me.
Things are changing. My little brother started college a few days ago. It blows my mind. Yesterday we were both little kids in elementary school and now we're both in college.
Me and my friends are at all different places in our college careers right now, even though we're all basically the same age. Some are graduating soon, some have already graduated, some are getting married, and me and Alex still have a few more years of school haha.

In any case, I'm excited to see what's going to happen next August 19th and the one after that and the one four years from now. And I hope that I'm sharing it with the same exact people. God has blessed me with the most wonderful family and friends, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

August 19, 2014

Tonight I had my first Open House experience on the teacher end - I hosted my first! It was interesting and a definite learning experience. Funny enough, I had to wear a red polo, and I thought back to my first day of 8th grade 12 years ago, wearing a red polo and khakis, just like today. The English teacher in me found it to be foreshadowing :)

Thinking back to me and Chanelle's conversation four years ago on August 19, I remember honestly thinking on that night that by the time we reached August 2014 that I'd be married and would've had a couple years of teaching under my belt. I'm not upset that that isn't the case. It just goes to show that we can plan all we want, but God's plans far exceed our own because He knows what's best for us, and no matter what we have in mind, His will will be done whether we initially want it or not.

I remember getting chills just picturing my life four years from August 2010. Chanelle and I were both really scared at the thoughts of it. But why? I'm not sure. If I'd known all the struggles I'd have to face over the next four years, that'd be understandable. But even with those hardships, I've also had some of the best times of my life in these past four years. I wish I could've told 21-year-old Beth that she didn't need to worry about the next four years, just live life in the moment. She didn't worry that much, but she was a little nervous just thinking about the future. She didn't realize the depths that she would reach with Christ over the next four years. 

Chanelle wrote this in a post on that night four years ago:

That’s what we talked about tonight.  The passage of time.  As the clock turned 12 and we found ourselves in August 19, Beth talked of the August 19 of 2006.  Later that night, a song led Beth to bring up the August 19 of 2002, and then we realized that that 2006’s August 19 was the halfway point between now and 2002’s August 19 - our first day of eighth grade at Southwest Middle School.
If that’s not meaningful, then I don’t know what.
We talked of August 19, 2014.  Would we be together, thinking of that very moment where we sat in Beth’s car in the Harris Teeter parking lot, watching the rainfall, listening to the same songs? Time is a funny thing.  It’s an intriguing thing.  It’s subjective, because high school trotted along a nice little pace, but then time broke out into a sprint for college, because here I am, four months from graduation.
The tone of the conversation matched the night’s weather.  Somber and heavy.  We shared our fears - fears of growing older, fears of the uncertain, fears of losing those we love most.  I haven’t had a conversation so honest in a long time.  The thought of revealing my vulnerabilities to others is something I detest.  It’s something I won’t do.  Something I don’t think I need to do.  But with Beth, I find it so easy.  It makes me realize that outside of God and my family, she’s the one I trust the most.  Trust is more than just a matter of whether or not someone will betray you - for me, it’s being able to hand them my rawest, most personal fears and feelings; those things that I rather just keep to myself.  With my best friend, I can do that.  But I’m digressing.
Or maybe I’m not.  Because in the midst of a conversation about how everything has changed and time won’t slow down, it brought my attention to one thing that has stayed the same: my best friend.
And when the conversation turned to darker matters, such as death, we knew that we had to pull ourselves away from that.  There’s a lot of daunting things in this world - so many things that go wrong, so many things that is easy to feel so helpless about.  But there is no use in dwelling on that.
So we turned the conversation around.  Leaving behind talk of how things have come along in the past years and turning our attention towards those to come.  Not in an attitude of fear, but in one of hope.
We set our eyes on our futures - bright and brilliant.  And it really is funny, how Beth and I have so many of the same fears, but also so much of the same dream.  The concept of fate came up a few times - how certain things happened instead of others.  It seems to be the case here.
And it’s so unsettling, how quickly the years have passed - how I’m suddenly older and expected to be more mature, ready to dive into “real life.”  And we had started out our talk insistent on how much we did not want to grow up.  How frightening being thirty years old seemed.  But then we realized - it’s not scary or unappealing at all.  Because we’re going to get our dreams.  We’re going to be doing what we love with the ones we love by our sides with our forever faithful God always seeing us right through.
It was silly yet serious at the same time.  As our conversations uplifted, so did the mood - the rain even began to let up as we began to accept the nature of time and embrace the future.  We joked about how life would be, then realized that it probably will be exactly as we said.  And it all seemed very meaningful - the evolution of the talk and it’s common themes.  The recurring significance of that day’s date.  How it seemed as if maybe we really were on the cusp of something big, after we had just talked about how before things became good, they got really really bad, and both of us seemed right about at that point.
We thought of August 19, 2014 again.  The first time it came up, we faced it with a bit of trepidation: we’d be 25 and who knows where.  But by the end of the night, we were sure we’d be doing something great, and we’d come together on the night and look back on what things had changed and grown in those four years.
This night was something special in so many ways.  This night wasn’t the end of something, but rather the beginning of something new, but great. It epitomizes redemption and the merit of hope.  I feel like my life is going to mirror the conversation: something that started out full of things so bleak that ended up full of things so wonderful.
I end this night hopeful and sure of so many things.  My fears have been cast aside.  I know there is something amazing planned out there for me.  I know God has it under control.  I know I’m gonna have my best friend by my side for all of it. 
I am so thankful right now.  God is amazing, that is for sure.
After the conversation, when at two in the morning, we parted ways after two hours of talking, I reached for my iPod and put on “We’ll Be a Dream” by We the Kings featuring Demi Lovato.  And it’s a shame that this song technically is a love song, because other than that, the lyrics fit so well for this night.
Do you remember the nights we made our way dreaming, hoping of being someone big?
I think this is a night I’m gonna hold on to.  August 19, 2010.  I’ll remember it, the things we talked about, and be in awe of how far we’ve come. Once again, it was one of those “last nights in High Point”, but this one was something a bit more special.
So many years have passed with so many years to come.  So much has changed and so much remains uncertain, but I am sure of this: life is beautiful.
To think, I was originally going to already be back in New York City by now.  I missed seeing my two favorite celebrities in person today, but it was well worth it.  God knows what He’s doing.

I get chills just reading all of that! It reminds me now, when I need it MOST, that God does ordain things the way He knows will be best for us, and we may not see the reason why at first, but we will. It's also interesting that Chanelle included that we talked about how things have to get really bad before they get great, because that's been something we've been talking about a lot lately with sharing our own personal struggles. Also creeps me out that we were so worried about death that night... 

By this August 19th (since 2013), I've spent an amazing-beyond-words year in Boone, graduated from grad school, moved (against my will) from Boone (dramatically and traumatically), obviously gotten my first teaching job, gotten a new car (that I won't take through the mud, but I did name it The Black Pearl), got a PRECIOUS puppy, lost a few loved ones to Heaven (experienced a lot of the "death" that we were so afraid of four years ago), and many other things that have contributed to growth. Many things are the same though. My favorite song is still "Burning Love" and I still have the same friends, plus many precious new ones.

I think this year I'm at a point where I'm asking God to show me something, to use me. To do what He wants and what will serve Him best. It hurts and it's uncomfortable, but looking back, the first day of 8th grade was uncomfortable too. But God used that year to form lifelong friendships in my life with some of the sweetest Christian friends, and that year turned out to be one of the best of my life. I can't believe how worried I was all summer before that school year started. Of course, I'm very nervous about my first year teaching, and it feels kinda like it felt before I started 8th grade. Sometimes it seems that in life, the things we're most worried about turn out being the best. So here's to hoping this year is full of growth and happiness. I read Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper this year and I want to make sure that by next August 19th, I have been a light and witness even more than I've been this past year. God, please use me in mighty ways!!

Until next August 19...


Thursday, August 7, 2014

In This Room

Tonight is my last night in my room in my apartment.
I've been dreading this night for a very long time.
I get attached to things easily.
I don't like change.
I don't like goodbyes.
I don't like disassembling things that are perfectly perfect.
...I'm probably the worst person in the world with all of the above. Once I get used to something and learn to love it, I want it forever and ever and I never want to let it go.
I've known for over a year that this would be very, very hard for me, but there's really nothing you can do to prepare yourself for this, when you're like me.
Last night in my journal, I wrote this:
"Boone this past year has been the best thing that could've possibly happened to me. I feel like I've been missing out on it my whole life, but also like it's always been a part of me. It's like home now...
Boone has been like an escape for me - from the pressures of the world and the chaos of it all. It's so peaceful and free.
I'm sitting in my room with the window open and it's so perfect. I can't even describe this feeling. In just a couple of days, all this will be gone. I'll have my stuff, yeah, but this room...
I was the first person to live life in this room - pray in it, to cry in it, to laugh in it, decorate it, to love it, and to use it as a safe haven when the world got to be too much. I've slept soundly in the dark comfort of this room, with the light from outside coming through the window, cried to God from this room, looked out its windows and wondered about my future, read God's word from this room and felt peaceful about my future, taken selfies in this room, spent hours decorating this room to get it just right, felt cozy and warm in this room, cuddled with my puppy in this room, laughed at TV shows in this room, been quiet in this room, worried in this room, been overjoyed in this room, wrote blog posts in this room, talked on the phone to loved ones in this room, watched the snow fall and the sun rise and felt the cool air come in from the windows of this room...
Right now, I'm listening to crickets from this room.
Knowing this room is so temporary for me, spending the rest of my life with this room being just a memory...
Someone like me can't bear the thought of that."




Another chapter ending...
I know that this room is inanimate, without feelings, but I hope everyone else that lives in this room appreciates it and loves it like I have. Will they know what it meant to me? Will they know how much it meant to the first person who called it home? The next person will, if he reads this post haha... But the ones after that most likely won't. And that's okay. This room is in for many, many years of housing people and meaning something to them.
Tonight I will sleep in this room for the last time, and thank God for my time in Boone and how much I've learned and grown because of it.
"If these walls could talk..."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hard to Imagine Life Without This ... Boone, Part 3

This past year in Boone through Instagram photos, continued!
With it being my last week in Boone, I just feel like there's a storm in me that won't calm down - I knew it would be really hard to leave, so I've been mentally preparing myself. But after living the college life for so long and then living this past year in Boone, going back and forth between Boone and HP, it's so hard to imagine life any other way now. It seems like it should just be this way forever. And who knows? It might in the future when I get my mountain home! But for now, leaving Boone as my more permanent setting is just heartwrenching!
I'm so happy for the memories I've made in this "safe haven," as I now refer to it as. :)

More to come...